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Archive for December, 2003

 
|| December 18, 2003 || 2:17 pm || Comments (9) ||

Proudly, I am the only return.

ashtray polka tedious blog

If you need a good laugh and have not yet checked out my ‘referrals’ page, click the link to your left over there. ‘rivet nose’ and ‘magic fat boobs’ and ‘help my ears itch i dig at them and they become infected’ and ’soft nude noble emotion sexual free pic’ and ’stuck with nowhere to pee’ and ‘Go pack sand up your ass and die!’ and ‘did romans eat tomatos’ and ’some guy somewhere having to put up with her crap’ and ‘momma came in and she caught me red handed picking up a pound of beef’ and ‘packing up cars pictures’: All still winners.

But you know, it’s been said that I’m somewhat easily amused.

 
|| December 18, 2003 || 12:35 am || Comments (3) ||

I was all ramped up and ready to go. Really.

Then I saw the main-page pandering and I was suddenly Quite Fucking Ill (well, that coupled with fucking hundred-dollar tee shirt and two-hundred dollar action figure auctions) and in no mood to blog.

Background: Today I took a thirty-dollar tricycle that I bought a couple of weeks ago to a woman whose child will have only that on Christmas morning. She blubbered like a baby. I left thinking that even if it takes me pawning some of my shit, I’ll be taking her a few more things before I leave for momma and daddy’s house on Sunday.

Two-hundred dollars for a five-inch hunk of jointed plasticene. OBscene.

So now, I’m in the perfect mood to bring you the following, the link to which was found over at batty’s place:

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?

You are Gaius Caesar Germanicus – better known as Caligula!

Third Emperor of Rome and ruler of one of the most powerful empires of all time, your common name means “little boots”. Although you only reigned for four years, brief even by Roman standards, you still managed to garner a reputation as a cruel, extravagant and downright insane despot. Your father died in suspicious circumstances, you were not the intended heir, and one of your first acts as Emperor was to force the suicide of your father-in-law. Your sister Drusilla died that same year; faced with allegations that your relationship with her had been incestuous, you responded, bafflingly, by declaring her a god.

You revived a number of unpopular traditions, including auctions of properties left over from public shows. When a senator fell asleep at one such auction, you took each of his nods as bids, selling him 13 gladiators for a vast sum. You attempted to have your horse, Incitatus, made into a consul and hence one of the most powerful figures in Rome. It was granted a marble stable with jewels and a staff of servants. At one point you forced your comrade Macro to kill himself – in much the same vein as your father-in-law – accusing him of being his wife’s pimp. You, of course, were having an affair with said wife at the time.

Things went from bad to worse. When supplies of condemned men ran short in the circus, you had innocent spectators dragged into the arena with the lions to fill their place. You claimed mastery of the sea by walking across a three-mile bridge of boats in the Bay of Naples; kissed the necks of your lovers, whispering sweet nothings like “This lovely neck will be chopped as soon as I say so,”; dallied with your sister’s lover and made her pull her unborn child out of her womb prematurely. Towards the end of your reign, you had a golden statue of yourself made and dressed each day in the same clothes you yourself wore. When you eventually died, the terrified people of Rome refused to believe that such a cruel reign could ever end, and believed you to be alive for years afterwards.

In other, more pleasant news, I bought the first round of ’stuff’ for Trout today: a stocking, an assload of sweets and trinkets to put in it (including a warm, reversible ‘boggan –wooo, sharp– and a huge bottle of lotion, as he told me when he was overnighting with us last weekend that his skin was ‘ashy’, making me laugh so hard that I had to catch my breath), a small stereo, a couple ceedees, the rest of the volumes of Lemony Snicket books to complete the set (someone sent three of them today), a bottle of ‘nice’ cologne. Next on the agenda: a watch (lady at Fossil is cutting me a deal), a Gameboy Advance, a couple board games and some puzzles (kid loves puzzles, especially of a complex nature). Scout, Sam and I will pick him up on Friday afternoon and go shopping for tennyshoos and clothing.

DAMN, you people ROCK, with an unrivalled viciousness, for your two dollars, your twenty dollars, your good wishes for the boy. Beer and sausages for everyone!

Tomorrow promises to be busy: My golden statue will be wearing baggy sweats, an unruly ponytail and sporting a strange, patchy combination of cookie flour and acrylic paint on its nose. I’ma learn the damn thing to multitask even if it kills me. Not that it’d matter if it did, as history shows.

 
|| December 17, 2003 || 1:01 am || Comments (8) ||

Policy, Shmolicy…don’t fucking do that again!

In a serious breach of my new policy entitled Controlling Myself And Acting Like An Adult, today I told someone that I was gonna stomp a mudhole in them.

I felt much, muuuuch better after that. Remarkable.

pee ess…melly told me the other night that a relationship with me is like a minefield: “It’s like, ‘I’m doin’ all right, I’m doin’ all right, BOOM!,’ ” thus necessitating The Policy.

 
|| December 16, 2003 || 1:28 am || Comments (10) ||

The continuation of the continuation.

I hit the ground running. Fifty-four hundred seconds is not a whole lot of time; I was fatigued and addled and morning sickness (which kept my head ringed in porcelain for the first six months of all three pregnancies) had begun to set in with a menacing quickness.

I scrambled, with the help of six or seven friends, to pack enough for an indeterminate stay in California. I packed cans and cans of formula, threw dirty clothes willy-nilly into mindnumblingly huge suitcases, tried to anticipate our every need for a (at minimum) three-week stay.

California. I always hated it, and here was another reason.

The plane was being fired up as we arrived, and from a distance I saw my husband being loaded in: He was a shrouded in ugly wool blankets and ten miles of tubing and was once again deathly pale. I’d love to be able to tell you what kind of plane we took down there, but I forgot to turn my detail detector on; all I could think about was how tired, tired, tired I was and how Biff’s olive skin had gone a sickly light yellow and what was I going to do, how would I ever look at this child I was carrying without crying if her daddy didn’t make it??

We had shot right on past mealtime and of course there was no in-flight service, but the military’s version of a stewardess pulled a tuna sandwich from her bag and fed bits of it to Sam, who was chubby-cheeked and never met a stranger and was in the midst of a grand, grand adventure.

I don’t remember getting there. Not really, anyway. I know we must have, because we were there for the next nine weeks, and I have pictures. I look back now and I marvel; there I was, all of twenty-one and playing grownup. I had all the trappings of an adult life: Baby in arms, one on the way, gravely injured husband, big decisions to make. I was, however, very young and maybe just didn’t know enough to collapse or flip right the fuck out. Step into this moment, please. Okay, now that you’re here, step into the next one. That’s how it all went, no time to think, to assess, just time to breathe and maybe freak out a little bit and hyperventilate before recalling once again that breathing is a necessity.

The first two weeks there, Biff was taken into surgery every day for debridement, more and more of his leg disappearing in bits and snatches, which made him crazy with worry and me mournful with his sense of loss. Despite the fact that the Army had approved a voucher for a rental car, I ran myself ragged between baby and hospital until the Red Cross –contacted by a thoughtful nurse– flew Biff’s mother in to help. There were ugly moments with Biff’s mother, a passive-aggressive tug of war (“fuckyouFUCKYOUFUCKYOU,” I would scream into my naked palms when the baby slept and she was taking her turn at her son’s bedside), but I reckon that God will remind her of all the ugly details of that in due time (if he hasn’t done so already) so that I don’t feel required to.

He –Biff, I mean– was an emotional maelstrom most of the time and he lost an amazing amount of weight. I’d bring things in to him, piles of boardgames and books and outside food, but he spent many listless hours, slack-faced, with the swing-armed six-inch television less than a foot from his face. For some ungodly reason he watched re-runs of ‘Who’s the Boss’ and ‘Cheers’ over and over and over again. I am still tortured, squirming and uncomfortable, when I happen across one of these on teevee today. Their theme songs are like bullets to my skull, dead and crunching and unstoppable with all they bring forward out of the past. Snuggle fabric softener is another no-no. It permeated the laundry room at the temporary quarters that Sam, his grandmother and I shared for that period of time; sickened, I quit buying it once we got back to Alaska.

Sick, sick, sick. I ate soft-scrambled eggs –the only thing I wanted– and threw them up. I smelled my mother-in-law’s cheap AquaNet hairspray (which I begged and begged her not to use for several weeks before she finally quit) and shot toward the toilet, retching. The smell of the asphalt-laden airbase made me sick up any of my stomach’s contents. Everything was nerve-jangling and induced the nausea. Everything. The only pleasure I had during that time, oddly enough, was shopping at the commissary, loading my buggy up with fresh fruits and bagels in the still, somewhat sterile coolness of the place. It was there that I first bought and drank bottled water, a practice which amazed me.

To be put in the rotation for prenatal care, all expectant mothers (and Lordy, did I have expectations, oh yes I did) had to attend maternity classes taught by the OB/GYN staff. The only women there by themselves were those whose husbands were on TDY and little ole me. I went to Scout’s first and second ultrasounds on my own, too. It was a bleak thing to do so.

That time in California was the most alone I have ever felt in all my life. Funny how I didn’t pity myself at all then, but when I look back now it makes me so very sad for that pregnant girl-woman and all she was experiencing. Maybe I wasn’t brave at all, I think now, maybe everybody should have held onto their praise, because maybe I just didn’t know any better, didn’t have the vision to see what this would do to our lives…Biff’s, the children’s, mine.

The day came when he was pronounced well enough to go home, and we moved out of temporary quarters and into an empty hospital room for one night. They put Sam in a big industrial hospital crib with steel railings on the top and bottom that met in the middle with a clang. It looked for all the world like a cage and I was horrified; I was even moreso when Sam grinned wide and trusting at me from behind those thick square bars which were impossibly silver and shiny.

We were greeted warmly by our friends and church family; our every need was met and then some. Biff’s anxiety and depression over what the future may hold intensified, as did his manic tendencies, and this put an even greater strain on an already-limping marriage. We loved one another fiercely, but we had been rough on one another throughout the course of our short history. We circled one another like wary, whipped dogs.

All that time in the military and no one ever suggested he go seek counseling. That’s not what good soldiers do; the notion is never entertained. Part of me is wildly saddened by this while part of me comprehends fully.

Time marched on and so did we; in May I gave birth to famously wonderful Scout, who came out so girly and tender that she just about glowed. We stayed so busy that I hadn’t even thought to ask after the Bradleys and what became of their son. Did he live? Did he recover, or did he become a vegetable, as was predicted by many that said, “He may survive, but…”?

It haunts me. I want to know if he lived, and if he did, did he live??

Some six months after Scouty was born, I was looking up the meaning to names, and I was called up short by the interpretation of her full name, something that was done quite unintentionally. It means “Pure Light”, and my breath caught in my throat as I read that. Pure light.

“A light in all this fog,” was what had been said.

God bless you, Bradley family, wherever you are. I remember you, acutely and painfully, and I pray that you are well.


:: scout and her daddy, june ‘93 ::

If you never read any of my other verbose blather, please read this.

“You may have noticed that I have big earlobes. They run in my family.”

And that, my friends, is the first sentence uttered to me by Trout after the initial introductions. We were in my car at the time, headed to see his brother at the Home For Children With Wayward Minds. [aside] I don’t know why I can never call it what it is –a Juvenile Mental Hospital– but I can’t, I just can’t. [/aside]

That sentence said so much to me about this thirteen-year-old boy. It conveyed a sense of humor, an underlying warmth (and willingness to connect), a stark matter-of-fact realism.

In short, I knew quickly and instinctively that he was an exception to every rule concerning displaced children.

Try as I might, I couldn’t resist making a connection with this kid, couldn’t leave him in his respective weekly time slot with regard to my headspace. Field workers, well– we spend lots of face time with clients, and sometimes they become more than numbers that flit in and out of our lives. And Trout, he’s far from being a string of numbers that I wag around and talk with and supervise visits for once a week.

I’ve mentioned before how, by all appearances, Trout was dropped into his family by aliens. Pale-skinned, dark-haired and -eyed, wan-faced and missing many teeth, they are sharp contrast to Trout’s robust appearance, peachy skin, lively (they don’t dance, they hop) blue eyes and full-toothed grin. There is no discernible intellect where his family is concerned, but Trout’s mind is far-reaching and amazing. He’s an excellent conversationalist, while his genetic fellows are so narrow and one-tracked that it’s nearly scary.

The first day I met him, Trout asked if I might take him to the library. It was the first time I’d ever received such a request. I’ve been asked by clients to stop for candy, to illicitly visit errant parents, for a burger and once –incredibly enough– for drugs (this one I turned down, even though I myself needed to be high after pushing them out of the car). Most requests I politely decline, because most of the time there’re an endless litany of ‘I wants’ thereafter, and I cannot afford them either time-wise or wallet-wise.

“So,” I said, “the library?” I was just a wee bit taken aback.

“Can you show me where it is?”

And we went to the library, where he selected several books. At one point he turned to me and asked for recommendations, which I excitedly gave. Madeline L’Engle. The Lemony Snicket Series. Trout checked out the maximum number of books the library would allow (twelve? fifteen?); I was jaw-dropped the next week when he told me he’d read them all. The thing is, I know he read them all, because we had discussions about them. I bring him books now: ‘Coraline‘ by Neil Gaiman and ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ series by Douglas Adams (please, honey, if you don’t know by now, a little link ain’t gonna help) were my most recent offerings.

One week he excitedly showed me a dollar.

“This week when we go to the library, I can buy used books! They’re five for a dollar,” and later in the day he led me into a room overflowing with antique texts with library bindings. I gave him the last two dollars in my wallet and then watched later as he lined his purchases up across his headboard at the boys’ home. The books are shabby, but they are his.

So yeah, Trout is in a boys’ home with eight other adolescent boys. The place is located in a less-than-stellar part of town, and there is an eight-foot-tall chain link fence that surrounds it and gets locked at night. The fellas don’t spend a whole lot of time outside, as there is not much yard, and even if there were, the neighborhood is unsavory. Trout is the only white kid tossed in with a group of very “street” black kids and he is picked on because of this, because he came down off a mountain, because he is caucasian, because, because. I know this not because he whines about it, but because he’s just straightforward and frank. He gets picked on for being a smart kid, as well.

Trout’s family, to be quite blunt, gives no kind of fuck about him. In the five months I’ve had his case, Mom and Dad have only made two of the weekly visits, and they never call the boy. At first he was hopeful (heartbreaking, that) but now he is resigned: “To be honest, Miss Beth, I don’t think I ‘m ever going back home. My parents don’t do anything they’re supposed to so they can get me back.”

His brother, who by my inexpert estimation will never be suitable to be set free, views things from a different (deluded) angle, employing the phrase, “When we get home, Trout…” a whole bunch.

Trout eyes him evenly on these occasions, and with no trace of bitterness or sorrow, says, “Jonah, we aren’t ever going home.” Resolute, and it sends hot pop-rivets into my heart all the more for the fact that there is no whining or blubbering involved. [aside] I had a friend that went to Bosnia and wrote to me about an orphanage that was eerily quiet, even though there were rows upon rows of cribs; the babies had become so accustomed to their cries going unanswered because there were so many of them and so little staff that they eventually gave up doing so altogether. I am discomfitingly reminded of this by Trout’s response to his family situation…[/aside]

“I think I’ll go to Harvard,” he told me one day with decided conviction, “It’s an excellent school. I’d make a good attorney, and I want to help people.” We were, of course, driving down the road.

“Plus, I want to make lots of money.”

“You can’t make money and help people, Trout,” I told him wryly, eyeballing him sideways past the arm of my sunglasses. I turned to him, raising my eyebrows.

“You gotta pick one or the other.”

He just grinned three miles wide and said, “You watch me.” Holy cow, it’s me all over again. And you know, I half-believe him.

I do things for Trout where I can: a hamburger here, some lip balm there; these are the little things that nobody thinks much about, but that can make life easier in some way. Last week, he went to his first dance.

“Call me with her dress color, and we’ll see about flowers, Trout,” I told him the week prior. They went, twenty of Maxim’s dollars in hand, had some pizza, took some pictures.

We can’t do it all, though, because even though we truly hurt for nothing, sometimes we wonder how we will do for ourselves. That in mind, coupled with the fact that Trout’s parents give not a shit and love their new (well, if eighteen months is new) childless state, I set out to make sure he would have a super birthday (Monday, the day after Mathias’) and a most righteous Christmas.

I found a group of ladies willing to collect money for him, and I excitedly informed Trout that he and I would go shopping after his weekly visit.

That, on my part, was incredibly stupid; I should recall that good intentions will sometimes pull up short, stringing you up in them hard and leaving you to choke.

Yesterday morning the head fundraiserlady called; I foolishly thought it was to arrange a meeting and hand off the shopping money.

“Hey girl,” she said to me, “…look, three families that are going to be without have come to our attention, and we’ve decided to do something for them.” My heart plummeted to my ankles. I mean, I don’t begrudge this decision, because I understand the Utilitarian concept of doing the most good for the greatest number.

But I told this kid he’d be able to go Christmas shopping. I was planning to take him for something nice –the one “WHOA. WOW.” present all kids hold their breath for– a few little things, some decent clothes (he lusts a pair of name-brand sneaks with a phenomenal passion), brand-new books all his own, a good watch, a wallet (for the beloved liberry card).

And shit, it eats me up, because I simply don’t have the resources. So I’m going to do something that I don’t often do here in this forum, and I’m gonna poke my hand out to see if you guys will fill it in order to give this child a Christmas to remember, as he’s never really been in a position of being a receiver before. There are those of you that have remarked on how I should put up a tip jar, how I should ask in times of need (The Great Textbook Crisis of ‘03, and GMAC still awaits part of their money, YAY! >:o) ), how I should be paid for what I write because it is well and truly worthy. Okay, I’m taking you up on it. I’m asking now. The money will have to get here relatively quick, and I have a PayPal account that I use for my eBay transactions; it’s not set up for credit cards, because I firmly object to their three-and-a-half percent fees but I would upgrade for this situation. There is express mail, too, if you had faith enough in me to send a check. Something, anything. Hell, if you don’t feel comfortable sending money, there are a couple of things that I know for sure he wants and you could just send those if that settles better on you.

I’m tired of feeling impotent in the face of the world’s ills, and this kid is so worth it, y’all. He’s so very worth it. That’s a compliment I don’t bestow lightly, no matter the age or circumstance.

I’m asking for something that I don’t often beg: Your help. Please lend it to this situation.


You’ll notice that I am e-nun-ci-a-ting to combat the effects of alcohol.

Oherwise, you’d not be able to discern the words for a hick-draped slur.

Yes, I found the audblog posts that melly and I did some two to three months back. Seems I posted them all to another blog (whoopsies).

The rest of them consist of much laughter, some birthday wishes, and melly peeing while we record. Who says that blogging losers don’t know how to have a good tiiiime? One of these days we’ll do it all in person (well, except maybe the peeing thing). I love you, melliloulou.

 
|| December 11, 2003 || 8:38 pm || Comments (5) ||

I know I’m pale, but I ain’t dead yet.

Last…final…tomorrow. Then I work all day, then I get naked and crawl under the covers and sleep for four days. Then I run around like a maniac some more, getting ready for an art show next weekend and three different family Christmas gatherings (baking, WHHHEEE!). Then, on Sunday, I will aim the lovely little Saturncar toward the Delta and mash the gas as hard as I can until I get there. I’ve already put the Superior Children on notice: “The first one to start bickering gets pushed out of the car, and I’moan not even slow down before I do it.”

My friend AmyBeth called me today to let me know that Sam reported this to her matter of factly.

“I kinda believe her, Miss Amy. My momma’s crazy.”

Well, at least the boy is not laboring under any illusions.